Our Chief End

I love the opening from Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It. He writes:

On Sunday mornings my brother, Paul, and I went to Sunday school and then to “morning services” to hear our father preach and in the evenings to Christian Endeavor and afterwards to “evening services” to hear our father preach again. In between on Sunday afternoons we had to study The Westminster Shorter Catechism for an hour and then recite before we could go to the hills with him while he unwound between services.  But he never asked us more than the first question in the catechism, “What is the chief end of man?”  And we answered together so one of us could carry on if the other forgot, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”  This always seemed to satisfy him, as indeed such a beautiful answer should have, and besides he was anxious to be on the hills, where he could restore his soul and be filled again to overflowing for the evening sermon.  His chief way of restoring himself was to recite to us from from the sermon that was coming, enriched here and there with selections from his most successful passages of his morning sermon.

The chief end of course, in this case, was to be outdoors to be recharged.  To hike the hills, to fish, to enjoy God’s creation.

And why not?  God has given us this beautiful creation to enjoy.  We heard it this past Sunday about how God made the world and everything in it was good, and that God asks us to both enjoy it and take care of it.

I think it’s in enjoying God’s creation that we also enjoy God.  Getting out to the Cape, enjoying the beach, being out on the water, hiking, biking, paddling.  It all brings us closer to God and restores our tanks.

Too many of us don’t take time to recharge.  We try to squeeze in a vacation that is nearly as jam-packed as our every day lives.  We rarely take time to be restored, to be filled again to overflowing, so we can be better for the work before us.

This idea drips with connection to Sabbath keeping.  We don’t do this much in our culture.  We stay busy to keep the balls in the air.  We go 60 or 90 or 200 miles an hour most, if not all, of the time.  And we don’t take any time to see the impact it has on us or our families until it’s nearly too late.

So, what is your chief end?  How do you “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”?  What recharges your batteries and gives you time to pause and know that you are doing what God desires for you?

For me that means hiking, cooking, being outdoors with my family, camping, biking, resting, reading, and a load of other things (I have lots of hobbies, all of which I do moderately well).  But those things restore me and make me better able to do the work I am called to do.

I hope you take some time this summer to do what recharges you and that you see it as a gift from God.  And maybe you will take a minute or two and comment on what you do to restore your soul.